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US-South Korea gears up for war games; take a look on how North Korea might respond

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Sat August 19 2017, 3:40 pm
  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    America's annual joint military exercises with South Korea always frustrate North Korea. The war games set to begin Monday may hold more potential to provoke than ever, given President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" threats and Pyongyang's as-yet-unpursued plan to launch missiles close to Guam.

    Will the allies keep it low-key, or focus on projecting strength? An examination of this year's drills and how the North might respond to them:

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    The War Games

    The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills will be the first joint military exercise between the allies since North Korea successfully flight-tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and threatened to bracket Guam with intermediate range ballistic missile fire in August. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    The drills, which began in the 1970s and involved 25,000 American and 50,000 South Korean soldiers last year, consist mainly of computer simulations aimed at honing joint-decision making and planning and improving command operations. The United States and South Korea also hold larger war games in the spring, called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which involve live-fire exercises and training with tanks, aircraft and warships. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    There's media speculation that the allies might try to keep this year's drills low-key by not dispatching long-range bombers and other U.S. strategic assets to the region. But that possibility worries some, who say it would send the wrong message to both North Korea and the South, where there are fears that the North's advancing nuclear capabilities may eventually undermine a decades-long alliance with the United States. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    Missile Threats

    It's almost certain that this year's drills will trigger some kind of reaction from North Korea. The question is how strong it will be. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    Some experts say North Korea is mainly focused on the bigger picture of testing its bargaining power against the United States with its new long-range missiles and likely has no interest in letting things get too tense during the drills. If this is right, expect the usual propaganda belligerence in state media or low-level provocations like artillery and short-range missile drills. Or perhaps the North could conduct its first submarine-launched ballistic missile test since last August, which, if successful, would allow it to demonstrate serious military capability without posing an immediate direct threat to the United States. (Reuters)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    But others think the North might use the drills as an excuse to conduct another ICBM test or maybe even act on its threat to lob missiles into the waters near Guam. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    Worries About The Future

    There are calls in both the United States and South Korea for the allies to pause or downsize the joint military exercises to reduce strain and potentially persuade North Korea into talks to freeze its nuclear program.(AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in has also ordered his military officials to schedule talks with the United States to increase the warhead limits on South Korean missiles, and his prime minister said recently that the country should also consider acquiring nuclear-powered submarines to better cope with North Korean threats. (AP Photo)

  • north korea, south korea, war games, US, military drills, fighter jets, missiles, ICBM test, guam, Donald Trump

    Some conservatives want more strength, however, and are calling for the United States to bring back the tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from the South in the 1990s.(AP Photo)

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